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Archive for January, 2021

How to Avoid a Dud Second-Hand Car

We’ve previously discussed some of the benefits with inspecting a second hand vehicle. Naturally, this is as good a way as any to make sure that the car you’re buying second hand is fit to keep you going. Beyond that, you might also want to take a close look at the service book, ensuring that the car has been regularly maintained and serviced by the appropriate professionals.

Before you get too confident that might be the end of the matter, there is one more thing you should look into – and it is arguably, the most important thing you should look into.

 

 

Personal Properties Securities Register (PPSR)

Fortunately, each state across the country maintains their own written off register, which is  nowadays aggregated in the federal government’s Personal Properties Securities Register (PPSR), which is an online search system and noticeboard detailing security interests in personal property

When it comes to write-offs, it’s important to distinguish that there are two types – statutory write-offs, and repairable write-offs. Both categories on the register are restricted to vehicles up to 15 years old. The registration of a written off vehicle is also cancelled once declared a write-off by the relevant authority who supplies the information. Such authorities typically include the likes of insurance companies, dealers, auctioneers, and other parties who trade such vehicles for parts or scrap value.

In the case of a statutory write-off, the vehicle has either been: damaged beyond economic repair; damaged extensively by hail, floods or fire; stripped of parts; or suffering a notable level of structural damage that would inhibit the vehicle being repaired to a safe and operable standard. These vehicles are meant to display a notice advising of their written off status. Meanwhile, it is prohibited to repair the vehicle or take it onto the roads – its use is now limited to scrapping, or for parts.

 

 

As far as repairable write-offs, these vehicles are deemed a write-off when their underlying salvage valuation plus costs associated with repairing any damage exceed the market valuation of the vehicle. This has a tendency to work against older vehicles, particularly those from luxury manufacturers, or models which are known to depreciate rapidly.

Unlike a statutory write-off, vehicles which have been declared a repairable write-off may be repaired and returned to the road. This will typically be recorded with the registration body in each state, and may show up on the registration certificate. As you can image, the process of returning a vehicle of this nature onto the road is somewhat strict. As well as the repairs themselves, owners are required to provide relevant documentation proving the identity of the car, while also taking the vehicle through a roadworthy test and government inspection.

 

Having the peace of mind and clarification that a vehicle is not a statutory write-off is a blessing for motorists. On the contrary however, the presence of repairable write-offs on the relevant registers means that affected vehicles will take a significant hit in terms of their valuation – despite the fact they have passed all necessary tests and are considered safe and operable. Keep this in mind if you’re considering purchasing a vehicle that was a repairable write-off.

Tesla Reinvents Their Wheel For 2021.

Tesla has revealed updates to their Model S. The big sedan has been given tweaks to the exterior, the drive, train, and the interior. Also, gone is the Performance model and replaced by the Model S Plaid and Model S Plaid+.

Front and centre, well…left on American spec cars, is a major change to the wheel. It’s no longer round or even vaguely ovoid. It’s a yoke, not unlike those found in fighter jets. A broad “U” shape, a pair of spokes join the verticals at hub height and allow a broader view of the digital screen. It’s sure to cause controversy and pub discussion, but that’s not the only change. The large centre console screen has been tipped 90 degrees to a landscape orientation and is set into the dash rather than standing proud. Tesla say it’s more a gamin screen than anything with ten teraflops of processing power.

There’s more carbon fibre or wood trim covering parts of the dashboard and door panels, and the door cards have been redesigned and appear to feature much-needed additional storage space. The stylish new centre console also has more storage space and comes complete with wireless charging for multiple devices. The rear seats look more sculpted and feature a new fold-down armrest with cupholders.

Rear-seat passengers get an 8-inch screen that offers the same infotainment and gaming functions as the main screen, and it even works with wireless gaming controllers. The Model S has three-zone climate control, a 22-speaker audio system, heated seats all around (and ventilated front seats), ambient lighting and a glass roof as standard. White, black and beige remain the only interior color options.

The exterior has been gently massaged. There the same coke bottle flanks, slightly reprofiled slimline front and rear lights, and coupe style profile. The front bumper has been reprofiled, losing the blunt end from top to bottom, and now adds a gentle curve to split the look horizontally, including a cooling airvent, as it wraps around to each wheel arch and extends a bottom lip ever so slightly. The rear valance has also been changed and looks more like a pair of exhausts tips hiding on each side.

Underneath are now three motors. The new Plaid and Plaid+ will offer a scintillating 1.99 seconds (Plaid) to see the 100kph mark, cross the 400 metres in just over nine seconds, and 200mph/320kph in the top speed matter. Current pricing, says Tesla, is US$121,190 Model S Plaid and US$141,190 Model S Plaid+. Expected range is now 520 miles or 837 kilometres.

The Model X will come with only one three motor variant, and should see the tonne in 2.5 seconds. Top speed for the SUV is around 163mph/262kph and a range of around 340 miles or 547 kilometres. Pricing starts from US$121,190, the same price as the Model S Plaid and US$40,000 more than the Long range bi-motor Model S.

New Reasonably-Priced Cars (Commodore/Falcon Replacements)

By now you’ve probably recovered from the loss of not being able to purchase a new Falcon or Commodore in Australia.  These were lovely, big, spacious cars that could travel long distances in superb comfort.  So what other alternatives are there for the buyer looking for a new car with those ‘good-ol’ Commodore and Falcon traits?  Well, the good news is there are some potential new vehicles for you.

I’ve had a look at some of the roomier cars with decent performance, decent comfort and reasonable pricing; and when I mean reasonable pricing I mean anywhere up to $60k.  There are one-or-two vehicles on the list that are priced beyond the $60k mark, but I’ve added them because I reckon that they would still be worth considering for those of you who have a few more dollars in your back pocket.  None on the list run out to much beyond $80k.

The pricing given for each vehicle should be regarded as the estimated standard model price, so if you go for the higher-end models or want more options, then you would expect that these variants will be pricier.  Don’t forget to get in touch with our sales team at Private Fleet because often we can get you some great deals!

Alfa Romeo Giulia ($60,900)

Alfa Romeo Stelvio ($65,900)

Alfa Romeo might just have a car that fixes your Commodore or Falcon withdrawal symptoms.  The Giulia is a really nice drive, is quick and gets five-star safety. The Stelvio is the SUV version that’s superbly nice-looking and great to drive.  These two Alfas tick all the right boxes for those who are after a great driving experience and something a bit special.

Audi A5 ($71,900)

Audi A6 ($84,900)

Audi Q5 ($66,900)

Three Audis come to mind – all of which are impeccably built, comfortable and high-tech.

BMW 3 Series ($70,900)

BMW 4 Series Coupe ($71,900)

These two Beemers are worth a look.  Any of the line-up are dynamic and efficient cars to drive.  They’ve just been updated with all the latest new technology.  The sexiest car in this list might be the 2021 4-Series Coupe.

Chrysler 300 ($59,950)

Do try one of these!  Superbly comfortable and roomy, the 2021 Chrysler 300 is loaded with luxury and style.  There is heaps of smooth engine torque and plenty of performance available with the 300.  A Chrysler 300 comes with the choice of a V6 or V8 petrol engine, and the pricing is outstanding, too.

Ford Everest ($50,090)

Ford Mustang ($51,590)

Ford Ranger ($29,190)

Three Fords might do it for you.  The Mustang has loads of performance available, but it is a bit tight on rear seat space.  The Ranger is a comfortable ute that doubles as a workhorse.  The Everest is an SUV Ranger, and is lovely to drive long distance with the family and gear on-board.  The Ranger and Everest boast five-star safety, 4×4 capability and come with all the latest technology.

Genesis G70 ($59,300)

Genesis G80 ($68,900)

Here are two very underrated cars, or perhaps just not so well known.  The G70 and G80 are smooth, luxury cars built by Hyundai, and come with gobs of style, refinement and high-tech features.  They are also superb at covering long distances quickly.  Nice lookers, too!

Haval H9 ($40,990)

Thought I’d throw the new Haval H9 into the mix.  It’s a stylish, spacious, big SUV that’s loaded, safe and comfortable to drive.  Check out the price!

Honda Accord ($51,990)

Honda might be able to tempt you into the fold with their new Accord.  There are few spacious FWD sedans that can do everything as nicely as an Accord.  Comfort, new technology, new features and reliability go hand-in-hand at Honda.

Jaguar XE ($65,670)

It might be a bit small for some, but the Jaguar XE is a pleasant drive.

Jeep Grand Cherokee ($59,950)

Ride high in a well-priced Jeep that can head off-road, is big on space and can cosset you in luxury.

Kia Sorento ($45,850)

Kia Stinger ($49,550)

Kia has these two models that are as different from each other as chalk and cheese.  However, they are roomy, good performers and are packed with up-to-date features as standard.  The pricing is excellent, and the Stinger goes like a stabbed rat!

Land Rover Discovery Sport ($65,700)

This new Landie might be the right option for you.  4×4 capability, loaded with kit and stylish.

Lexus ES 300h ($62,525)

Lexus GS 300 ($74,838)

Lexus IS 300 ($61,500)

Lexus IS 300h ($64,500)

Lexus IS 350 ($66,500)

Lexus NX 300 ($57,500)

Lexus NX 300h ($60,500)

Lexus RC 300 ($67,990)

Lexus RC 350 ($70,736)

I can count nine Lexus vehicles which might be the right fit for you.  Each variant is different, so there is a high chance that one of these will meet your requirements.  Lexus vehicles are high-end Toyotas with excellent reliability, performance, luxury and style.  Five-star safety comes with each of these machines, while the RC is a quick performer.  Hybrid versions are extremely efficient.  The NX is an SUV-type vehicle.

Mazda 6 ($34,490)

Mazda BT-50 ($36,550)

Mazda CX-8 ($39,910)

Mazda CX-9 ($45,990)

Aussie people seem to like Mazdas, and one of these four versions might appeal to you.  Mazda vehicles are well-priced, safe, comfortable and reliable performers.  The CX-9 is very roomy, and the 6 comes with sedan and wagon variants.

Mercedes-Benz C-Class ($66,300)

Mercedes-Benz CLA ($62,600)

Owning a new Merc doesn’t come cheap, so I’ve added just the C-Class and CLA as an alternative.  These 2 classy cars are excellent to drive, comfortable and safe.  They might be a bit small, however.

 

Mitsubishi Pajero ($54,490)

Mitsubishi Pajero Sport ($46,990)

Don’t forget the Pajero!  The latest version is very good at touring long distances, great for towing, spacious and a 4×4 king.  All the latest technology is on-board one of these.  Again, the pricing is first-rate.

Nissan Pathfinder ($44,240)

Check out the classy new Nissan Pathfinder.  It has plenty of space for the family, has five-star safety and it rides nicely on and off the road.

Peugeot 508 ($57,490)

Peugeot 5008 ($51,990)

Two classy Peugeot variants are well worth a look.  The new 508 and 5008 are very stylish and safe, and they are possibly some of the nicest cars to look at on this short list (that’s quite long).  Seating is spacious and comfortable, and the technology and features are all up-to-the-minute.  They cover the ground effortlessly and efficiently, and they are priced very well for what they offer.

RAM 1500 ($79,950)

I thought I’d add the highly rated RAM 1500.  “NZ Four Wheel Drive” magazine has classed this as the best ute for 2021.  4×4 action is a breeze in one of these tough yet comfortable machines, and space is abundant inside the cabin and out on the deck.

Skoda Kodiaq ($46,390)

The Kodiaq is one of the most practical vehicles you can buy.  Off-road ability, space and comfort are all part of the Kodiaq’s repertoire.  It also boasts one of the biggest boots.

Ssangyong Rexton ($39,990)

Ssangyong’s are tough, reliable and practical.  The Rexton is the latest SUV 4×4 variant that has all the latest new technology, comfort and space you’ll need.  Pricing is excellent and the styling looks pretty good, especially with big alloys and fat rubber.

Subaru Levorg ($37,240)

 Subaru Outback 3.6R.

Subaru Outback ($37,440)

How about the Levorg or Outback wagons?  Safety, AWD, reliability and practicality are all found inside one of these.  There are also some quick versions of these, as well.

Toyota Camry ($28,990)

This is one of the cheapest cars on the list that starts out at under $30k.  A new Camry is very modern, practical, efficient, safe and reliable.  What more could you want?

Volkswagen Passat ($46,590)

VW has the Passat.  Essentially it’s the European version of the Toyota Camry.  These are nice to drive, a bit more luxurious and great on style.  Here is a good practical car.

Volvo S60 ($55,990)

Volvo V60 ($57,990)

Volvo XC60 ($64,990)

Three Volvos slot into the price bracket range that I’ve been looking for – each a bit different from the other – but all built on Volvo’s latest 60 platform.  They are very modern, very stylish, very comfortable and very safe.  The Volvo XC60 has AWD and some handy off-road ability, while the V60 is a classy wagon.  The S60 is the sedan version.  Performance models come with hybrid technology, and all are great long-distance tourers.

2021 Toyota Yaris ZR Hybrid: Private Fleet Car Review.

Toyota is arguably the world’s leader when it comes to lobbing a hybridised drive-train into cars, and their small car, Yaris, has finally been given the treatment as seen in Camry, Corolla, and luxo-brand Lexus.The Yaris comes in three flavours, being Ascent Sport, SX, and ZR, and in non-hybrid form starts at around $25,500 drive-away. That’s for the Ascent Sport in manual and plain white paint…. Go partly electric and there’s a need to head to the SX. There’s a price difference of $2,100 between the standard and hybrid, with the battery version seeing $32,545 on the sticker. ZR starts from $33,655 for the petrol, and the hybrid $35,715 in white. Our review car came with a red-orange colour known as Coral which takes it to $36,230. It’s worth noting that Toyota hiked the Yaris prices substantially in 2020, with the Ascent Sport copping an increase of $9,500…The engine is a three cylinder petrol jobbie, but unusual in that its a big’un. It’s a 1.5L unit, larger than the more common 1.0L to 1.2L powerplants found elsewhere. On its own it would be a more than respectable engine for Toyota’s smallest automobile. Fuel tank size is 36L, down from 40L, and 91RON is just fine. Economy is quoted as 3.3L/100km (combined cycle) for the Hybrid compared to 4.9L/100km from the standard 1.5L. Our 70/30 cycle saw 5.2L/100km from the 1,130kg (dry) ZR Yaris. Cargo is 270L minimum.As such, partnered with a battery system, the whole shebang delivers a total of 85 kW and 141 Nm to the front wheels via a CVT auto. The standard engine brings 88kW and 145Nm. Drive in the ZR is selected via a simple and straightforward in-line lever, complete with a B for Braking at the end of the selection line. This allows a driver to harness more of the kinetic energy that braking lets loose and channels it to the battery.ZR is ignited via a push-button, and there’s that eerie silence that hybrids and electric cars have, before a gentle accelerator push has the Yaris ZR Hybrid waft away quietly before the petrol engine kicks in. Toyota has configured this to play its part from either around 25kph on a gentle getaway, or, like all hybrids, straight away if the sensors read a heavy right foot. The 1.5L is noticeable but not intrusively so, and those that have drive three cylinder engined cars will appreciate that familiar off-kilter thrum upfront.There’s good initial speed, and the Yaris ZR Hybrid delights in both urban and freeway driving. Its quick, too, in rolling acceleration, with a definitive and solid urge to hustle as an when required. It hangs on nicely, with a finely tuned suspension dialling out all but the worst of the more common irregularities found in roads. A benign handling set-up sees minor understeer at suburban velocities, with long sweeping turns easily controlled by steering input or gentle braking.It’s well specified inside, with a HUD or Head Up Display taking pride of place. Toyota’s familiar and wonderfully user friendly touchscreen with voice recognition, Mobile Assistant, Siri Eyes Free, Miracast and myToyota mans the upper centre of the dash, and a mix of grey shades add a touch of funkiness to the seats. However, it’s still a kind of budget car in a way, as the driver’s seat is fully manual in adjustment, and the cloth trim means no heating or venting. They are, however, bolstered for extra support.The driver’s dash display is a little unusual in look, with the centre recessed in and having only an info screen. The power/charge screen and speed are housed in two separate dials on the binnacle and well forward of the info screen. They’re digital in layout and look, and have a stylised font that’s eyecatching. They need to be as otherwise the dash is remarkably bland and dull. A single thin strand of red breaks up the solid black plastics, and that’s it. The airvent surrounds are a piano black, and contrast with the varying sages of grey on the seats and linings of the roof and doors.Outside it’s a different story, with that Coral colour highlighting the Yaris’ pear shape from roofline to wheelarches as seen from front or rear. The tail tucks in around the prominent lights, with a subtle pair of lines that joins them and the rear door handles. LED headlights show the way at night.

Simple black and machined alloys underpin the Yaris ZR Hybrid, with the 18 inch wheels wrapped in Bridgestone Ecopia rubber at 185/55.No skimping on safety across the range either. Lane Trace Assist, Road Sign Assist, Lane Departure Alert, eight airbags, and Intersection Turn Assistance are across the board. Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert are ZR bespoke. Servicing and warranty details are online.

At The End Of The Drive.

It’s a good drive but the price is an eyebrow raiser. Equipment levels are high to make up for it though, including the Head Up Display and eight airbags. Yaris is also heading Toyota’s push to bring sportiness back to the brand with the Gazoo Racing, GR, powerhouse versions. But, for the money, Kia, Hyundai, Mazda, Ford, VW, offer bigger vehicles and at not a whole lot worse economy.

Check out the 2021 Yaris here.

 

Buying Your Teenager’s First Car

Cast your mind back to your first car and how exciting that moment was. Now think about the joy that your child stands to gain when they discover new-found independence through their first car. Of course, helping a teenager secure their first car means that you are likely to be shopping for a different vehicle than the one you might drive yourself. However, that doesn’t mean you won’t have issues to consider if you’re buying this car as a gift.

 

Looking out for your teenager

Your typical teenager has no idea of the costs involved in running a vehicle. They might see you fill up petrol or take the car in for the odd repair, but as we all know, there is a lot more to it than just that. On this front, parents need to make sure their son or daughter are prepared for the costs that come with owning a car. After all, you don’t want to set them up for financial strain!

Budgeting advice can go a long way, so share any tips that you’ve learnt along the way. No matter what, don’t cave in and buy a car for your child if they don’t have an income of their own. You don’t want to get stuck as the go-to party when it comes to keeping the car in good order.

 

 

Arranging your teen’s new car

Once you have that side of things in check, you will need to decide how to purchase the car. Are you going to apply for car finance? Who is going to make the repayments, you or your teenager? Or are you going to split the repayments? How much of the purchase price of the car are you willing to fund and how much will your son or daughter need to produce?

Although there are no right or wrong answers, you do need to have all your affairs in order. If a loan is necessary to purchase the car, it may be easier for the parents (who usually have stable jobs and a better credit history) to take out the loan and arrange with the kids how they will repay the money. Mum and dad could also act as a guarantor, if necessary.

As alluded to earlier, you also need to negotiate who’s going to pay for what. There is insurance, fuel, repairs, registration and all those other ongoing costs to be taken care of. Unless you’re feeling like a charity, these bills should not automatically be taken care of by the parents.

It’s a good habit to get young adults into the habit of taking some responsibility. However, there is some room for negotiation rather than just insisting that your teen take on everything. Parents may want to take care of third-party insurance, for example. Alternatively, parents may contribute towards fuel and other running costs in exchange for getting your child to run errands using the car.

Take the time to talk it through and educate your teenager about what it means to own a car. They might decide another form of transport is more suitable until they’re in a better financial position, but unless you are open and frank in your discussions, neither of you will know for sure.

2021 Kia Stonic Readies For Release.

Kia’s curiously named Stonic is being advertised on Australian TV for sale. The brand’s answer to the Kona, Stonic will have sharp pricing, a choice of three models (Stonic S, Sport, and Stonic GT-Line) with sub-2.0L engines, and a seven speed DCT for the GT-Line. The base model has a six speed manual or auto.Pricing starts from $22,990 for the Stonic S in manual guise, with a $1,000 premium for the auto. Sport starts at $24,990 and $25,990 for manual and auto, with GT-Line from $29,990. All prices are drive-away.

The engines are a 1.4L non-turbo four, or a 1.0L three cylinder. Power and torque figures are 74kW and 133Nm for the four, 74kW and 172Nm for the turbo three. It’s front wheel drive for the four cylinder, AWD for the turbo three potter.

The standard equipment for the S includes six airbags, car/pedestrian/cyclist detection AEB, Lane Following Assist, reversing camera with dynamic parking guidelines, rear parking sensors, driver attention alert, cruise control, idle stop and go (also in Sport), wireless Apple Carplay and Android Auto (S trim only), multi-connection Bluetooth, 8-inch Multimedia touchscreen, 6-speaker sound system, 4.2-inch TFT LCD driver’s cluster, 15-inch steel wheels and auto headlights.

Step up to the Sport and there is 17-inch alloy wheels, smart key with push button start, 8-inch multimedia touchscreen with navigation, 10-year Mapcare updates with SUNA Traffic, electric folding mirrors and premium steering wheel and shifter.GT-Line adds in 17 inch alloys, idle-stop-and-go, a bespoke body package, MFR LED headlights, two tone colour or a sunroof, cloth and artificial leather seats, climate control air conditioning, privacy glass, and an electrochromic mirror.

Exterior colour choices are broad. There will be seven available for the 1.4L version, with Clear White, Silky Silver, Perennial Grey, Aurora Black Pearl, Signal Red, Mighty Yellow, and Sport Blue. The GT-Line has a choice of four exclusive two-tone treatments. There is Clear white with an Aurora Black Pearl roof, Mighty Yellow and Aurora Black Pearl roof, Sporty Blue with Aura Black Pearl Roof, and Signal Red with Aurora Black Pearl Roof. Silky Silver is not available on GT-Line. Premium paints have a $520 impost.Based on the Rio’s platform, the Stonic has had the gearbox moved forward by 28mm, and their is an increase of caster angle from 4.1 degrees to 4.6 degrees, Shock absorbers have been specified as the high performance RS-valve types. the rear shocks have been given a more upright stance, with 8.4 degrees off vertical, whilst Rio has 25 degrees.

Interior features include dual channel Bluetooth for two phones to connect for music streaming. The S has wireless connection for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto via the 8.0 inch however it’s not available on the Sport and GT-Line trims. Satnav has a 10-year Mapcare and SUNA traffic services support included.

Safety is high, of course, with camera and radar AEB across the three, with car, pedestrian, and cyclist recognition across an activation spread ranging from 5km/h to 180km/h for vehicles and 5km/h to 85km/h for pedestrian and cyclists. DAA or Driver Attention Alert is standard, along with Lane Keep Assist and Lane Following Assist. Parking Distance Warning connects to the rear sensors to monitor and alert for objects around the vehicle when reversing whilst the Rear Occupant Alert is a class leading inclusion which monitors rear door opening and closing to assist the driver about rear seat passengers when exiting the vehicle.Packaging has the Stonic at a length of 4140mm, width of 1760mm, height with roof racks 1520mm, wheelbase of 2580mm and minimum ground clearance of 165mm in S trim and 183mm for Sport and GT-Line, a maximum of 1,155L for the cargo, whilst towing is up to 1,000kg braked with the manual.

Check with your Kia dealer for a test drive.

2021: A Honda Odyssey.

Honda Australia has confirmed details of the upgraded for 2021 Odyssey people mover. There’s a change to styling, an upgrade to safety called Honda Sensing, and new tech alongside convenience features.Power comes from an unchanged 2.4L petrol four, with 129kW (6,200rpm) and 225Nm (4,000rpm) with no diesel nor hybrid drive currently available. The transmission is a CVT, with engine idle shutdown, and paddle shifters.The restyled nose is perhaps a pointer to a new corporate look. A broad four bar grille leads the eyes to a pair of slimline headlights that fold back into the fenders, and are not dissimilar to those seen on a certain Toyota SUV. Both the bumper and bonnet have been restyled as well, with a broader and deeper set. The rear lights evoke a German brand, and in a first for Honda, the indicators are sequential in motion.

In profile the highlights are a new set of ten spoke alloys at 17 inches diameter, and a strong windowline. There is some racy styling too, with a creaseline that starts at the bottom of the front doors and rolls towards the rear up and over the rear wheel arch. This leads to a restyled rear bumper and some distinctive contours. These will show up thanks to four premium paints, with pearlescent Platinum White, Twinkle Black, Super Platinum, and a striking Obsidian Blue.Inside the Odyssey has a kick sensor powered tailgate, powered sliding side doors with a gesture sensor that lights as a person approaches, and Captains’ Chairs for the second row. Leather trim is standard and smartapps add to the technology.Robert Thorp, General Manager for Product, Customer and Communications, Honda Australia, says: “Odyssey has been the undisputed leader in the people mover private market for nine consecutive years. When it came time to purchase a new vehicle to transport their family, since 2012 more private buyers have chosen the Honda Odyssey than any other people mover. With the introduction of the updated 2021 Year Model, the Odyssey range now offers more comfort, convenience and innovative technology features than ever before – it is a first class people mover designed to suit the needs of family car buyers.”

The Odyssey has a ride height of 300mm, making entry and exiting an easy experience. The dash has a new 7.0 inch digital screen insert, an 8.0 inch main touchscreen, and a leather wrapped steering wheel. LED ambient lighting brings a luxury cabin touch and acoustic glass for extra cabin quietness adds to the comfort levels. A locking mechanism that closes and locks the doors called Reservation Locking closes the doors after a press of the exterior lock button.Honda Sense brings in Forward Collision Warning, Road Departure Mitigation System, Lane Keep Assist, and Adaptive Cruise Control as standard fitment across the restructured range. There are two grades, Vi L7 and Vi LX7, which replaces the VTi and VTi-L grades. Pricing starts from $44,250 (manufacturer’s list price) and $51,150 (manufacturer’s list price). The 2021 Honda Odyssey is on sale as of January 18, 2021.

Stellantis: One New Name, A New Home For Many

Stellantis. It’s the umbrella name for the coming together of two major automotive groups, the Peugeot and Citroen Alliance, and the Fiat Chrysler conglomerate. There are brands as diverse as Opel to Maserati, Citroen’s DS to Vauxhall, and there is already murmurs of upgrades to vehicles produced by companies now joined as one.

The full list, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Abarth, Lancia, and Maserati from FCA, and Citroën, DS, Opel, Peugeot, and Vauxhall from to PSA means that there is over 120 years of automotive history brought together. And collectively, there are now over 400,000 personnel with that collective pool of experience and knowledge.

John Elkann is the Chairman of the Stellantis board, and says: “It is no coincidence that Stellantis is born precisely when our world requires a new kind of automotive company that will champion clean and intelligent solutions to provide freedom of movement for all. Our global scale and reach provide us with the resources to invest in state-of-the-art technologies, distinctive excellence and unmatched choice for our customers.

But it is the geographic and cultural diversity of Stellantis’ people that from Day One is our greatest competitive advantage. It is they, with their energy, their knowhow and their constant commitment who make Stellantis what it is today. And it is they who day-by-day will build an even greater company for this new era of mobility.”Echoing his words is the new Chief Executive Officer, Carlos Tavares, with: “This is a great day. One year after we announced this project, Stellantis is born, notwithstanding the unprecedented societal and economic disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. I want to warmly thank all of the teams who made this possible and also thank the entire workforce who continued to move our operations forward during this exceptional year.

This demonstrates the agility, creativity and adaptability of our company which aims to be great rather than big, determined to be much more than the sum of its parts. It is also a further signal of the new company’s determination to be a leading player in the automotive industry in this ever changing environment. Stellantis is dedicated to “pursuing greatness” and enhancing the well-being of its employees.”

The group’s spread reaches to over 130 countries, and the brands cover the full spectrum of market segments from luxury, premium and mainstream passenger vehicles to hard-charging pickup trucks, SUVs and light commercial vehicles, as well as dedicated mobility, finance and parts and service brands. This new group now expects to leverage its size and economies of scale to invest in innovative mobility solutions for its global customer base. Forward estimates see Stellantis looking at a revenue base of over five billion Euro in a synergystic way of spreading the brands.

Achieving that revenue will come from a streamliniung of processes, including how purchasing is conducted, the crossover of drivetrains and platforms, and an amortisation of Research and Development. Currently, that estimate also comes from not closing any production plants. To ensure that all departments flow smoothly, including company-wide performance & strategy, planning, regions, manufacturing, brand and styling, there will be nine Governance Committees.

2021 Hyundai i30 Elite v 2021 Toyota Corolla Ascent Sport: Private Fleet Car Review

This Car Review Is About: The two cars, in hatchback form, that dominate the market for their sector. We were lucky enough to have the 2021 Toyota Corolla Ascent Sport and 2021 Hyundai i30 Elite side by side. Five door bodies, automatics, revvy four cylinder engines, and decent tech for the average family are hallmarks of both. However, one of the two is not like the other, in that the i30 range was given a refresh late in 2020, with the sedan now replacing the Elantra, with Toyota’s offering always having a sedan available.

We back-to-back the pair in a not quite but close apples for apples comparison. The Elite is close to the top of the i30 range, the Ascent Sport is the entry level to a three tier range from Toyota.

How Much Do They Cost?: In basic Glacier White and auto form the Ascent Sport starts from $29,380 with metallics a no cost option but $500 on SX and ZR. For our location, Hyundai’s website priced the i30 Elite auto at $33,830 in Polar White. Clad in Intense Blue, as was our test car, that goes to $34,340. Both cars are on a drive-away price schedule. Under The Bonnet Is: A 2.0L GDI (Gasoline Direct Injection) engine for the contender in the Korean corner, and a same sized engine for the Japanese contender. The Hyundai runs a traditional torque converter auto with six ratios, the Toyota a CVT with ten preprogrammed steps. Both drive the front wheels and each have manual shifting. Power for the Korean is 120kW and peak torque is 203Nm, with 6,200rpm and 4,700rpm the required figures. Corolla has 125kW and 200Nm, however Toyota don’t appear to list the rev points.The i30’s overall economy finished on a creditable 7.2L/100km. We saw a best of 6.0L/100km, a very good figure considering it was loaded with four passengers and a reasonable amount of boot space filled. Corolla’s average hovered between 6.0L to 6.5L per 100km in a more urban oriented drive. Tank for the Ascent Sport is 50.0L, matched by the i30. Both are 91RON and E10 compatible.

On The Inside It’s: Black leather for the i30, with perforated squabs but no venting nor heating. The Ascent Sport has black cloth as befits an entry level vehicle. Both have DAB audio and a point of difference here. The Toyota’s layout is simple and intuitive barring the fact it’s a black and white 8.0 inch screen. The Corolla has voice recognition, a bonus at an entry level.It’s much easier to use whereas the Hyundai’s updated screen, even with the appeal of colour and in the Elite it’s 10.25 inches, isn’t as intuitive. We also found the sensitivity of the Korean’s tuner to be less than the Corolla’s. Ascent Sport has satnav as an option and includes a USB port in Ascent Sport trim. Smart apps are standard in both.The dash design for each stamps their mark; the Corolla’s has barely changed in some years and features the somewhat heavy and intrusive triple wave design that intrudes into the kneespace of driver and passenger. The Hyundai’s design has space between the plastic and the knees and in the i30 it’s a simple, single line from side to side that incorporates the piano black surrounds for the aircon. The Hyundai’s gear selector feels it has a shorter throw and the springing in the Corolla isn’t as tight as the Elite’s.Both have auto, dusk sensing headlights, with the Elite’s higher spec level adding in rain sensing wipers. It’s a key start for the Ascent Sport, push button for the i30. The Elite also has a 12V socket up front with a wireless charging pad. The Corolla’s dash display has the speedo front and centre, with the full colour 4.3inch info screen on far right. The Elite has a full colour TFT 7.0 inch display, shared across all models.One notable difference between the two is the Corolla’s much discussed cargo section. It’s not a high loading lip however the cargo section’s floor is level with it, and underneath is the spare wheel and associated equipment. The i30’s floor is below the lip and seems further from the rear seats too, making for a more family friendly usage. Also, the i30’s boot area is home to the bass driver for the audio system. The Corolla has 217L to 333L, a figure much commented on since the revamps, with the Hyundai starting from 395L and moving to 1,301L with the second row folded. Both have a full sized spare.994mm and 977mm are the head room front and rear measurements for the i30, 1073mm and 883mm leg room, with 1,427mm and 1,406mm shoulder room. The Toyota spec sheet doesn’t list them.

On The Outside It’s: A mild but noticeable update for the i30. Up front is a set of driving lights that have have expanded from a simple strip of LEDs to a more assertive looking set of triangular LEDs that fill out the insert, and double as indicators. The grille has morphed and moved to a broader design, and has a more flamboyant fan shaped styling. The rear lights have a slight restyle to match the very mild changes to the front lights.

Corolla was given its own do-over in 2018. It’s broader, sharper edged, and lower than the more bluff and upright standing i30. The flanks are more organic, curved, than the straight sides of the i30, and the rear has a more pronounced slope than its Korean counterpart. The LED DRLs are far more inboard and set inside the narrow headlight cluster.There’s notable differences between these two however there are similarities to other brands. The VW Golf is more akin to the squat and bluff i30, Subaru’s laid back Impreza hatch is closer to the Corolla.

i30’s length is 4,340mm, and stands 1,455mm tall. Width is 1,795mm and wheelbase is a decent 2,650mm. Corolla is 4375mm in length, with a 2640mm wheelbase. Height and width are 1,435mm and 1,790mm.

On The Road It’s: A definite difference in feeling. The Corolla’s steering is light in comparison to the i30 Elite’s but it’s also more twitchy. The Hyundai has some real weight, and it’s subtly but noticeably more front wheel drive. The lightness of the Ascent Sport means one can comfortably pootle around town with only one hand on the tiller but that twitchiness then demands both hands be in contact. The i30’s has a need for both, particularly because of the over-enthusiastic lane keep assist function. The Corolla’s is noticeable but nowhere near as “grabby”, a complaint well recognised about the Korean. The i30’s suspension is more sporting in tune, with the 225/45/17 Hankook Ventus Prime rubber gripping hard and well, and providing a little bit of absorption from the smaller sidewalls. The Ascent Sport has 205/55/16s from Dunlop’s Enasave range and the higher sideall is certainly noticeable in ride absorption. It also flexes just enough to put a bit of Sport into the Ascent Sport name. Highway and freeway ride quality certainly had the Ascent Sport in a slightly more wallowly mood, not quite as tied down nor quick to dampen, as the i30. In contrast, the i30 was a bit more bang thump.The i30 had a minor glitch in the engine under load. On the flat and and on uphill acceleration, there was a momentary “pinging”, a stutter in the otherwise smooth pull of the 2.0L. It has to be noted that we’ve not experienced anything like this in a modern car and Hyundai’s garage was made aware of it. The auto is smooth in changing and the electronics work with the throttle input and engine’s revs perfectly. Using the manual shift option makes fractionally quicker changes.For the CVT in the Ascent Sport, if a quick getaway is the required situation, manual shifting works wonders. There’s minor “slurring” on the changes but it’s preferable to the unenergetic normal sensation from the CVT on gentle to medium acceleration. A harder and heavier pedal extracts more from the 2.0L and CVT and even brings in mild torque-steer.

Braking in both is courtesy of well balanced, well modulated, discs front and rear. The pedal in the i30 has a heavier feel and in context matches the steering. The Corolla’s is lighter but not without feel. It’s also slightly quicker in the ratio, but not by much.

What About Safety?: Hyundai doesn’t skimp on the i30, with Blind Spot Collision, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and Safe Exit warning missing only from the base i30 and Active. Otherwise the Safety Sense package adds in Driver Attention Warning, Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA) – City/Urban/Interurban/Pedestrian/Cyclist (camera & radar), Lane Following Assist and Lane Keeping Assist-Line.

Corolla matches this with Lane Trace Assist for the CVT equipped Ascent Sport, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, and Pre-Collision Safety system with pedestrian (day and night) and cyclist (day) detection plus Road Sign Assist. Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic, like an entry level i30, is missing in the Ascent Sport. Both load up seven airbags including a kneebag for the driver.

What About Warranty And Service?: Toyota has a VIN based service structure online. Warranty is five years and unlimited kilometres. That’s the same for the i30 and Hyundai also uses a VIN based service quote system.

At The End Of The Drive. In honesty, there really isn’t a lot between them, even looking at putting the SX in the place of the Ascent Sport. It would be convenience factors such as the charge pad perhaps, the extra clearance of the dash in the i30 over the Corolla’s design, and the brilliant screen for the driver in the i30 against the slightly better economy in the Corolla and the more user friendly interface on the touchscreen.The driving experience is a user dependent one; for us the i30’s ride tune was preferable, however there is no doubt that the softer and more comfortable tune of the Corolla Ascent Sport has its adherents. There’s also that legendary Toyota sense of being bullet-proof and infallible. In essence, the gap isn’t as big as it could have been.

Caravanning

So there have been one or two posts on towing, as well the ones on the best-suited vehicles capable of towing.  So, for those of you who have the right tow vehicle, let’s take a look at some tips when it comes time to hitch up the caravan and be off on a trip of a lifetime around Australia.  Caravanning is still one of the best ways of seeing Australia and meeting plenty of people along the way.

If you are going to be travelling for a long time or for a great distance, then there are a few things worth considering so as to make your trip as rewarding as possible.  Here is a list of suggestions for you to consider before departing on your next caravan trip:

I’m assuming that you’ve already got the right tow vehicle.  The tow vehicle manufacturer’s towing recommendations shouldn’t be exceeded.

You may be thinking seriously about your caravanning adventure but still be at the pre-caravan purchase.  Do ensure that you take your time purchasing a caravan; this will help you make the right decision for you and your family (if they’re going to go with you).

If your tow vehicle is an automatic, then you should look at investing in a new transmission oil cooler, particularly if the tow vehicle has seen a few kilometres.  Hauling a big load does put higher stress loads on the transmission, thus heating it up.  If the transmission cooler isn’t up to the task, it won’t be long before you’ll cook the transmission and hit problems.  An overheated transmission is likely to cost plenty to repair or rebuild.  The price you’ll pay for a decent new transmission oil cooler will be cheaper than a new gearbox or gearbox overhaul.

Planning ahead always helps; so write a checklist when planning your caravan holiday.  This is so that you don’t leave anything important behind.

Keep in mind that your camping gear, which includes equipment such as water, food, clothes, blankets, camping gear etc, will generally add another 3-to-500 kg to the weight of the empty caravan.  And it’s also important, when loading the caravan, that the heaviest items are packed on the floor of the caravan, close to the middle where the caravan axles are, above the wheels.  This distributes the weight nicely over the axles and prevents the caravan becoming front-or-rear heavy.  If the weight bias is toward the front or rear then you’ll strike handling and braking issues.  Light items should be stored at the top, and can span the length of the caravan easily enough, but the more weighted items should be distributed evenly on the floor and in the middle and over the caravan axles.

Always carry a fire extinguisher on board your caravan; that way you’ll be properly prepared to stop any fires from getting out of control.  And, on the topic of fires/heat, a great idea when having a BBQ at caravan parks is to use baking paper on the BBQ plate, this way you can simply fold up the paper after use, and the plate will remain clean.  I’m all for avoiding doing dishes as much as possible!

Make sure you do pack some flat blocks of wood.  These can be used as a sure footing for the caravan’s parking-stability arms when your camp site is on uneven ground.  They can also be used as a firm base for changing any tyres.  Oh, and make sure you have a spare wheel for the caravan, just in case your caravan gets a puncture a long way from a service station.

One addition that makes hitching up very easy is a reversing camera.  You can even buy an aftermarket unit for reasonable money if your current vehicle doesn’t have one fitted.

Do check out the caravan and camping accessories that are for sale on the market.  These can help make your caravan holiday even more comfortable and enjoyable.

There will be even more great tips, so do share your ideas/experiences with us….

Have fun and enjoy the sights!